Success of talent programs is not in their contents, scope of training, mentoring or other educational activities, but rather in the willingness and ability of talents to accept responsibility for their own development. It is necessary to clarify, support, and cultivate. Our experience and best practice can be summarised in following priorities:
- Identify talents together with managers based on performance and potential
In the beginning, it is necessary to win attention of senior management to nominate candidates for selection who – besides being good performers – also possess potential, talent, and willingness. Sometimes, nominees for talent programs are high performers with whom managers don’t know what to do. Evaluating who will be successful 1 or 2 levels higher to their current position is not an easy task. Different criteria influence and predict future success, such as self-awareness, ability to learn, drive, and empathy.
- Execution of development plans must occur on the job, not in training
Real chance for development starts after excited talents return from training to their work desk and hold action plans in their hands, focused on implementation of what they have learned. Experience shows that it is critical to have direct manager’s attention and support for talent’s objectives/plan, so that they can together find a way to realise the plan. It is otherwise likely that talents will be absorbed by regular work responsibilities.
- Work on real projects is a source of inspiration and learning
The 70-20-10 rule leads today’s development programs to a single finding: the more you manage to realise development on actual tasks/projects, the greater the added value for the entire company. Project work requires cooperation with people who are not in direct reporting line, in many cases with people from other departments of the company or from abroad. Complexity of assignments, need to become familiar with new areas of business, cooperation in virtual teams remotely – all of these are significant sources of new experiences which become significant sources of learning (even though they usually lead to certain levels of frustration).
- Talents need to be given new challenges
Talents need to be involved even after attending talent programs – making them responsible for interesting projects, maintaining their connections with each other and their sense of belonging, which usually develops during the program. This group is the most at risk to leave the company. They have been set on their journeys, waiting for new opportunities, and usually not ready to be patient. It is necessary to keep them in the spotlight, otherwise they will be subject to attractive offers from outside.